Good Morning Foodies! It has been almost a full week since I have cooked in my house! After spending almost 5 days sick and self-medicating with quarts and quarts of chicken rice soup, carrot ginger soup, and pots of steaming hot tea, I was ready for some solid comfort food last night! Now I know I have posted about mac and cheese before, but this is more of a classic recipe. It is my own combination of a blend of my family recipes which my husband (who shockingly never had mac and cheese until we started dating! Those Italians are all about their olive oil and garlic!) absolutely loved! The cheesy, gooey sauce is held waaaay better in shells then traditional elbows and a crispy, crunchy breadcrumb and cheese topping gives the dish the perfect bite. It was just what I needed to feel cozy on a rainy night after feeling really crumby all week! I have tried a lot of mac and cheese recipes but this one is so super easy, can be prepped in under 10 minutes and frozen for future meals. I promise, family members of all ages will agree, this Classic Macaroni and Cheese Recipe is a hit!
1 box of shells
8-10 ounces of sharp cheddar (or more if you like! Grab the block and grate yourself. This recipe is so easy and quick that this step won’t slow you down but it makes a big difference!)
8 ounces marbled Jack (I like to mix the cheeses but use whatever you have on hand)
1/2 cup butter, plus 2 TBS
1/4 cup flour
1 TBS dijon mustard (you can also use 1 tsp of dry mustard)
Salt and Pepper
2 1/2 cups of milk (we use 2% in our house, works just as good as whole and you feel a little less guilty going back for seconds 🙂 )
1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese (we ALWAYS use Locatelli in our house, well worth every penny, trust me, you’ll never grab Kraft again!)
Cook the shells in boiling water for about 8 minutes, until just al dente. Drain, toss with EVOO, and place to the side.
Melt 1/2 cup of butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour, mustard, and salt and pepper. Our famous rue! Make sure you let the mixture bubble for a minute before you start whisking in the milk. Once all the ingredients are combined, let the mixture thicken, whisking almost constantly so you don’t burn the bottom. (Yes, I’ve had this happen, no good!)
Turn off the heat and add 1/2 the cheeses to the milk mixture. Stir in the shells. Pour half the mixture into a casserole. Sprinkle with remaining cheese (save about 1 cup to top with). Pour in the rest of the shell mixture. Top with remainder of cheese. Mix remainder of butter (melted) with the bread crumbs and Parmesan. Crumble over the casserole. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes until bubbly and brown!
This comfort food was exactly what I needed to feel cheddar, er, I mean better! I really believe that what we put into our bodies can keep us feeling good. Food can be the best medicine and this recipe was just the right prescription!
From my kitchen to yours, Eat Well,
Stephanie a.k.a. The Foodetarian